By Susan Gately - 23 December, 2017
Catholic and Church of Ireland Archbishops of Armagh appeal to "seek to bring 'safety' into the lives of those around us".
The Archbishops of Armagh, Eamon Martin and Richard Clarke, recently travelled together to Rome to meet with members of the Sant’Egidio Community, an ecclesial movement which works particularly for the poor and in peacemaking.
Referring to the experience in their joint Christmas message, the two men spoke of meeting one evening with a number of the refugees being helped by the Community – some from Syria and some from Eritrea. “Three Eritrean girls, possibly still teenagers, had arrived in Rome only a few hours earlier, having been rescued from danger in Ethiopia by members of the Sant’Egidio Community. In conversation, we asked the girls how they were now feeling. One of them, with a sudden huge smile on her face, replied in just one word – ‘safe’,” write the archbishops of Armagh.
In the Old Testament God’s people were promised that if they trust in the Lord, they will find a place of rest, safety, security, a refuge and a reason for hope and confidence, continues the message. “The Christmas promise went deeper and further. To those who would put their trust in Him, Jesus came to offer spiritual safety – the reward of eternal salvation.”
Part of the challenge of Christmas is to seek to bring “safety”, in its widest sense, into the lives of those around us, write the archbishops. “There are people in our midst who are without the security of food or even of a roof over their heads. There are those who are newcomers to our country, perhaps of a different religious faith and culture, who feel that they are objects of suspicion and dislike.”
Others may seem less in need of security on the outside but may be “alone and afraid”, “without friends” or people to “look out for them” and people with lives “empty of hope”.
Referring to Jesus’ last judgement described in the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, “Our Lord assures us that we meet him when we care for those who need us, whoever they may be. Christmas is a time when many of us are happy to have the emotional security and safety of our family and friends around us, and the comfort and assurance of strong faith in the birth of the Saviour. Let us be ready to share our safety and our ‘reasons for hoping’ with others,” ends their joint message.